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You need to spend more time thinking about this from a perspective that does not pre-suppose a positive view of the EU.

This is where Cowen then turns the vote into a referendum on our membership of the EU as a whole.  Do we want to be part of the project or don't we?  If he can succeed in turning a second vote into a plebiscite on our continued membership of the "inner circle" of the EU project he will still win.

This is the weak link in your otherwise reasonable plan. Claiming it is a "referendum on our membership" can be easily dismissed as a campaigning ploy unless it is actually a referendum on membership. And if it is, then you had better be willing to accept the consequences of defeat in the (admittedly unlikely) event that it occurs.

There were no obvious negative consequences to voting No the last time. The fact is that the No campaign was factually correct in saying that a voting no was a vote for the status quo (Nice rather than Lisbon). The damage to Ireland's interests that you highlighted in other diaries is the loss of "political capital" behind the scenes - easily presented as "bullying' if one is so inclined.

The problem with Ireland's vote is not the No as such, but the dog-in-the-manger aspect of that no. If a second referendum is held, then the no option should remove this aspect - meaning that Ireland opts out but that the rest of Europe is given permission to proceed. You have to be prepared to risk losing something in the event of a second no. However, be aware that, unless you opt for the nuclear option (voting no = withdrawal from the EU), it is likely that any "limited-withdrawal" associated with a No vote would be presented by some as "getting all the benefits and none of the liabilities" of membership.

The question is how many people would be prepared to campaign on such an argument? Despite all the cash of Libertas, the real danger is "Sinn Fein", which for those who are unaware translates as "ourselves alone". I may be wrong, but I suspect Sinn Fein would be perfectly happy with a provincial backward-looking Ireland so long as they were kings of that Ireland. Don't dismiss the "better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven" mentality.

by det on Thu Aug 28th, 2008 at 02:49:29 AM EST

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